Java earthquake death toll rises to 252 as search for survivors continues

Rescuers in Indonesia said the search would continue through the night for survivors of Monday's devastating earthquake, which is known to have killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds of others.

The quake, followed by several aftershocks, shook the country's main island of Java, damaging buildings and sending people scrambling for safety.

A local government spokesman in western Java said on Tuesday that the death toll had risen to 252 deaths. There are 31 people missing and 300 injured.

Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said more than 2,200 houses had been damaged and more than 5,300 people had been displaced.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.6 quake was centred in the Cianjur region in West Java province at a depth of 10 kilometres. The weather and geophysics agency BMKG said there was no potential for a tsunami.

Cianjur is about 75 kilometres south of Jakarta, and the quake was felt strongly in the capital and the surrounding area.

Hundreds of victims were being treated in a hospital parking lot, some under an emergency tent. Ambulances were still arriving at the hospital late into the night, bringing more people to the hospital.

Earlier, Herman Suherman, head of the city administration of Cianjur, West Java, told news channel Metro TV earlier that "at least" 300 people were being treated in one hospital in the city alone. "Most have broken bones after being trapped in the rubble of buildings," he said.

Relatives of the victims gathered at Sayang hospital, he added, warning that villagers may still be trapped in the rubble, and many families in villages had not yet been evacuated.

AP Photo/Firman Taqur
Workers inspect a store damaged during an earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. - AP Photo/Firman Taqur

'Thousands of houses damaged'

Authorities had earlier reported rescuing a woman and baby trapped in a landslide in Cianjur.

"There have been dozens of people killed. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of houses are damaged," a spokesman for the administration of the West Java town of Cianjur told AFP.

The damaged buildings included an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities, BNPB chief Suharyanto said.

Footage from Metro TV showed some buildings in Cianjur reduced almost entirely to rubble as worried residents huddled outside.

AP Photo/Firman Taqur
A hospital worker carries an earthquake victim on a gurney outside a hospital in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. - AP Photo/Firman Taqur

Buildings sway in Jakarta

In Jakarta to the north, high-rise buildings swayed and some were evacuated.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage in the capital, but people rushed from buildings. Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described the panic of employees rushing for the emergency exits.

"I was working when the ground shook. I could clearly feel the tremor," she said.

“The quake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to get out of our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,” said Vidi Primadhania, an employee in South Jakarta.

AP Photo/Rangga Firmansyah
Rescuers remove the wreckages of vehicles damaged in an earthquake-triggered landslide in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. - AP Photo/Rangga Firmansyah

Earthquakes occur frequently across the sprawling archipelago nation, but it is uncommon for them to be felt in Jakarta.

The country is vulnerable due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates meet.

In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.

In 2018, the island of Lombok and the neighbouring island of Sumbawa were hit by a violent earthquake that killed over 550 people.